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  • This episode is sponsored by Awesome Socks Club, a sock subscription for charity!

  • Click the link in the description and sign up between now

  • and December 11th to get a new pair of fun socks each month in 2021.

  • Also, our usual COVID disclaimer:

  • This episode was filmed on December 1st!

  • For our most up to date information about the COVID-19 pandemic,

  • check out the playlist linked in the description.

  • [♪ INTRO]

  • We've been getting lots of vaccine news for the last few weeks,

  • including that multiple drug developers are taking the next steps

  • towards rolling out vaccines to the public.

  • Like, on November 20th here in the US, the pharmaceutical company

  • Pfizer applied for an Emergency Use Authorization for

  • the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech.

  • And Moderna filed the application for theirs ten days lateron Monday.

  • That's a big step!

  • But it also doesn't mean we have multiple vaccines about to be rolled out.

  • It'll likely still be months, maybe even more than a year,

  • before you can stroll down to your doctor's office

  • or local pharmacy and get one of these vaccines.

  • These may not even end up being the vaccines we use for this disease!

  • Still, there is some really awesome science to talk about here,

  • because these vaccines are a totally new thing!

  • In the last few months, you've probably heard people,

  • including us, talk about how vaccines take time to develop.

  • The design process and lab tests usually take months, sometimes even years.

  • But things are different during a serious emergency, like a global pandemic.

  • Investors inject lots of cash into drug development

  • to speed along the lab work and clinical trials.

  • Still, there's a lengthy formal approval process,

  • overseen here in the US by the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Except!

  • There can be a way to temporarily bypass that.

  • If someone above the FDA declares that there's a special kind

  • of medical emergencyone that goes beyond a normalpublic health emergency

  • then, the FDA may consider applications for

  • Emergency Use Authorizations or EUAs.

  • These grant temporary, limited approval for things

  • that might help tackle the emergency.

  • Essentially, the FDA does a complex and careful risk-reward calculation.

  • As long as the treatment, vaccine, or test shows that it might be

  • effective for the declared emergencyand there are

  • no good alternativesthen it can be considered for an EUA.

  • And that's what's happened with COVID-19 and these vaccines.

  • To try to get an EUA, the evidence supporting these vaccines will

  • first be reviewed by a panel of outside scientists

  • and public health experts, followed by the FDA.

  • For the vaccine developed by BioNtech, that FDA review

  • is scheduled for December 10.

  • Moderna's will follow a week later.

  • That said, there's nothing that says the FDA has to grant these authorizations.

  • And even if they do, the companies have already made it clear

  • that producing enough doses to treat everyone in the US,

  • let alone other countries, is going to take quite a bit of time.

  • Any doses that become available in the next few months will likely be

  • first prioritized for medical personnel and other high-risk groups

  • around the world.

  • That means we don't know exactly when everyone will be able to get

  • a vaccine, but it's not going to be soon.

  • Also, there's a chance that there'll be a snag along the way.

  • By design, EUAs last until the emergency is over,

  • the drug is formally approved, or new evidence emerges

  • that calls into question how useful the drug is.

  • That's what happened with the drug hydroxychloroquine:

  • it got an EUA for treating COVID, and then the EUA was pulled

  • after studies failed to find it actually helped.

  • And these vaccines haven't been tested in a lot of the people

  • we'd want to give a COVID vaccine to, like kids or people

  • with common chronic health conditions.

  • Which is why experts are being cautious about firing

  • their confetti cannons just yet.

  • There is something kind of cool about these two vaccines

  • in particular, though: they're unlike any vaccines

  • you've received to date.

  • They're what we call mRNA vaccines.

  • All vaccines work by training your body to recognize

  • a pathogen so it can disable it and flag it for destruction.

  • Some vaccines do this with a dead or weakened version of the germ,

  • like your annual flu shot.

  • Others, like the Hep B vaccine, just contain the specific part

  • of the germ your immune system needs to know to take it out.

  • And that's kind of the path these new vaccines tookthey teach your

  • cells to spot a part of this coronavirus called the spike protein.

  • But here's the big difference: they don't actually contain

  • that proteinthey only have genetic instructions for it,

  • in the form of messenger RNA, or mRNA for short.

  • That's the same kind of molecule our cells normally use

  • to build proteins from.

  • But these ones are carefully designed and manufactured.

  • This manufactured mRNA gets packed into little fat-based

  • nanoparticles that deliver it into our cells.

  • Once that happens, our cells build the spike proteins

  • that the immune system ends up learning to spot.

  • So these vaccines take advantage of the fact that our cells

  • have all these little protein factories just waiting

  • for mRNA instructions to tell them what to make!

  • The key thing to note here is that making this kind of vaccine

  • doesn't require an actual sample of the live virusjust

  • its genome sequence, which Chinese researchers

  • made available super quickly.

  • That let the developers seriously cut down on production time.

  • When the genetic blueprint of the new coronavirus became available

  • in January, researchers were able to design an mRNA that codes

  • for spike protein in a matter of days, and make testable versions

  • of the vaccine in about a month.

  • That might sound futuristic becauseit kind of is!

  • Different research groups have been studying mRNA vaccines

  • for decades now, so they didn't just pop up out of nowhere.

  • A few similar vaccines have been approved for veterinary use.

  • But, if granted EUAs, these two would be the first mRNA vaccines

  • to be given to people outside of clinical trials.

  • And if they do end up working wonderfully, they could usher in

  • a whole new era of vaccine design.

  • That is a big if, though.

  • So far, the vaccines seem to be doing well.

  • According to the companies, there are more side effects

  • than usual with a vaccine, including things like fevers

  • and sometimes-intense headaches.

  • But they appear to be effective in keeping trial participants

  • from getting sick with COVID-19.

  • And that gives us hope that they'll help us slow this virus down

  • and save people's lives.

  • But it's also important to remember that EUAs

  • don't mean something is proven.

  • While their lightning-quick development helped these mRNA vaccines

  • submit US EUA applications faster than other vaccine candidates,

  • they may not end up being our final solution.

  • And even if they do emerge as the COVID vaccines, the pandemic

  • isn't over by any stretch.

  • So we all need to keep doing what we can to keep everyone safe.

  • Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow News!

  • I do have a bit of unambiguously good news to share

  • at least, if you're the kind of person who likes awesome socks.

  • Hank and John Green have started a new charity project

  • called the Awesome Socks Club!

  • It's super simple: if you sign up, you get a fancy new pair of socks

  • each month of 2021.

  • Each pair was created by a different designer,

  • and they're all going to be super fun.

  • Like, one of them is covered in smiling bananas!

  • Because everyone needs happy bananas on their feet.

  • Also, 100% of the after-tax profit will go to decrease maternal

  • and child mortality in Sierra Leone, which is one of

  • the most dangerous places to be pregnant in the world.

  • But here's the catch: you only have one week left to subscribe!

  • You have to sign up by December 11 —otherwise, no socks for you.

  • Or at least not these fun socks.

  • So if you're interested, click the link in the description!

  • [♪ OUTRO]

This episode is sponsored by Awesome Socks Club, a sock subscription for charity!

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B1 US mrna emergency covid drug december protein

The Truth About COVID Vaccines and Emergency Use Authorizations

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/24
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